I have just finished reading the articles ‘The Making of an Activist’ and ‘Outing Attitudes in the Workplace’ (Organize, Sept. 2000) and find myself sitting here in tears.
As a gay man I find it appalling that there is not more education surrounding gays and lesbians in CUPE. I had thought up until now that my experiences were just so rare, it wasn’t worth bringing them up, but I see from these articles I’m not alone.
We too have Pride parades here in Alberta and this past year I attended parades in Edmonton and in Calgary. As with Sinda, there was no one I could find in Edmonton to help me carry a CUPE banner in the Pride parade and that saddened me deeply. When I went to Calgary, I was pleasantly surprised by a lone male walking in the parade wearing a CUPE t-shirt and handing out ‘Pride in CUPE’ bracelets.
I still have mine and wear it proudly to all CUPE events, but again I’m saddened that I had never even heard that such a bracelet existed. Had I known I would have passed them out at our parade.
It makes me wonder how many gay and lesbian CUPE members are out there, alone and wondering if they have brothers or sisters they could turn to for advice, information or help.
It wasn’t until I read these articles that I knew there was a CUPE Pride course available. We can sure use one.
I remember an ‘incident’ at the weeklong school in Red Deer last year. At an after hours get together one of the women invited her lesbian partner to join in the activities. Not long into the evening, there was an incident of name-calling and ‘lesbian bashing’. It so infuriated me that I was tempted to leave. Instead, as I was in the public speaking course, I went home and rewrote my speech aimed at the pain and hurt caused by this ugly incident and others like it. Some of my classmates were shocked – perhaps because of the incident; perhaps because this man they had come to know over the week just came out to them, while giving them some food for thought.
My hat goes off to Sinda and to Garry Judd for the courage and leadership they have shown, albeit in very different ways. It’s people like them that help to give credit to a group of people that is very often overlooked for fear of what you will find if you look.
CUPE needs to be there, in all provinces and in all cities, to offer a helping and supportive hand to our gay and lesbian members. And it’s important that the Pink Triangle Committee take a more active and visible role.